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Dolemite Lives:
Cult Movie And Underground Comedy

07.30.2003 | CULTURE

[Editor's note: R.I.P. Rudy Ray Moore, 10/19/2008.]

There may be a few people in the world as funky as Rudy Ray Moore, but there are none funkier. He began his career as the world's first X-rated comedian, making boisterous and raw comedy records. He exploded onto the silver screen in 1975 as the titular Kung Fu fighting Pimp in Dolemite, a perennial cult favorite that tore the blaxploitation formula apart while celebrating its lo-fi decadence. A string of successes followed, but Moore's career was derailed in the 80s by changing trends and bad luck. Thanks to the video releases of his classics and the due tribute of hip-hop artists, Mr. Moore is currently enjoying a renewed popularity.

On the heels of the release of The Return of Dolemite, I caught up with Rudy Ray at a posh New York Nightclub. Once I got over being dazzled by the finery of his clothes and jewelry, I managed to ask him a couple questions.

Q: You began your career as a singer. You were called the Turban Headed--

A: The Turban Headed Prince of the Blues was one of my titles. I was once called the Harlem Hillbilly because I sung country orientated songs in a blues fashion.

Q: What were party records?

A: Party records were records that we would crack jokes on and it would be the life of the party when people were having big gatherings and they'd put on a hot party record. We'd have some liquor and finger sandwiches and beer and stuff. And I'd get them in a good rejoicing mood and crack these jokes and people would laugh right on track.

Q: Why do you think there aren't records like those anymore?

A: The style of humor that we had at that time has become not the thing of today. But the humor that I used will always sell because if you can make a person laugh a generation ago, you can still make them laugh with that same material today.

Q: Can people still buy those records?

A: Oh, yes. Mine are selling better now than they did when I first put them out. They're on one of the world's greatest record labels, Capitol. We recorded them on a privately-owned label years ago, but the stuff got to be well enough accepted for Capitol to pick up. Three records of mine are on Capitol. They're on a subsidiary of Capitol called the Right Stuff.

Q: How did characters like Dolemite come about?

A: The beer joint and liquor store wise men would tell lies all day in front of the beer store, drinking a bottle of beer and having a sip of this wine, a sip of that one. They'd come up with these preposterous tales. One fellow would tell the tale of Dolemite. I went to a drug store and found out it was a vitamin that gives you strength. And since I got strength, I decided I would be Dolemite. So that's where I got the tale from, this beer joint and liquor store wise man. Tell you what a beer joint and liquor store wise man is. I'll rephrase it. It's a fellow who would sit around and lie all day, and drink ten bottles of beer all day.

Q: I heard the guy who told lies about Dolemite had no teeth because some people didn't like his lies.

A: He had a thousands on him, razor cuts. He was cut and beat up. I never knew what happened to him. I did hear he was hit by a bus on Central Avenue in South Central Los Angeles. I think he went to the hospital. Nobody hasn't seen him since. So, he evidently died.

Q: Shit. What was the inspiration for routines like "Shine?"

A: That was from the folklore humor that was told seventy-five years ago. I picked them up in order to make an album of a type that wasn't heard before. The signifying monkey come from those tales, too.

Q: I heard you where the first person to ever say "fuck" on a record.

A: I'm the first one to use all of the four-letter words, Motherfucker. The word "pussy" was used, but eating pussy was not.

Q: Other people like Redd Foxx were doing risqué material at the time. How was what you did different?

A: Redd Foxx did stuff like that. But he didn't use it like that. He used it like a jackass. Which was a horse, like a jackass. He'd say "everybody has an ass. The preacher has an ass. The boniest ass I ever been on. I rode his little bony ass." He was speaking about riding the preacher's horse. It was risqué, but not the hard type that I do.

Q: Why do you think the Dolemite movies have such lasting popularity?

A: They were hard-hitting, different and controversial. And generations that weren't born when I did them are going out looking for them today. They want to know just what I was like at that time, or whether it is a flavor that they can use.

Q: You've had a career renaissance since the mid-nineties. What were you doing between the Disco Godfather and then?

A: I was in very poor shape. I had a resurgence of my career when the hip-hop generation came along. Because, as you know, when it comes to rapping, I was through with it before they learned what to do with it. They started sampling pieces from my party records. Then the contemporary rappers of today started getting me to work live on their records. I worked live with Busta Rhymes, Big Daddy Kane, Erik B and Rakim, and the late Easy E. I worked with Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre--too numerous to name.

Q: Which of those guys did you enjoy working with the most?

A: I liked working with all of them. I liked working with Snoop because he idolized me so. And Busta Rhymes has always given me the greatest of praise.

Q: Is there any entertainer out today who you would say is the new Rudy Ray Moore?

A: I've been copied so much. They have copied me and copied me. Andrew Dice Clay. I guess he wouldn't be the new Rudy Ray Moore.

Q: But you feel he ripped you off?

A: Yes. And he was so crude that...he could do so well and make so much money. He could play a resort that I couldn't get to the front door of. I feel ripped.

Q: Beyoncé, J. Lo, Britney Spears; who would you want in your stable of hos?

A: None of them. This ain't my shtick these days. I have passed that ball into another direction.

Q: Do you have any advice for guys who want to meet women?

A: I have a lot of advice which is coming out on my new sex DVD, Close Encounter of a Sex Kind. I tell the girls and the boys what it takes to turn a man or a woman on. I tell the girls to turn him on, you got to use the best of what you got. And whatever you use to get him, you gotta keep using the same thing to keep him. And fellas, you gotta learn how to turn your woman. You don't get into bed and go up and down, up and down. That shit's for the birds. You gotta learn to stroke like a masterstroker.

Q: What do you think of the U.S. occupation of Iraq?

A: I'm not into politics...other than myself. I'm running again for president. Next year. My motto is to get all off the pimps and hustlers backs. And see that every one of them has a brand new Cadillac. I'm gonna legalize everything. I'm gonna legalize selling pussy. And I'm gonna tell the girls to get the money first. Because if you sell it on credit, there's gonna be a lot of good stuff lost. Those are some of my presidential promises.

Q: Thank you so much.

A: Adam, me and you. Thank you so much.

About the Author
New Jersey native Adam Bulger currently resides in Hartford, CT. As a free-lance writer he has written numerous articles on booze, cops and robots.
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